Happy 4th birthday, my sweet boy!
When we were preparing for your birth a little over four years ago, your dad and I developed a very detailed plan for getting to the hospital in time. You see, when your sister was born two years prior, she arrived very quickly – I woke up at 3:15 in the morning to a sharp contraction and discovered that my water had broken. She was born just three hours later.
Second births are supposed to be faster, so we assumed you would make your arrival with very little warning. We had to make sure someone could watch Isabelle before we left for the hospital, so we had a game plan for every imaginable scenario – if I went into labor during the middle of the night, if it happened during a weekday while Isabelle was at daycare, or if it happened on a weekend at home. We had numerous accomplices – Mom-Mom, Aunt Jenn, Aunt Cece, friends who lived close by – who would step in to help based on the time of day. We were ready.
But, you ended up arriving in a way that we didn’t anticipate at all – slowly and with very little drama. I went to my regular 39-week check-up, and the midwife calmly informed me that I was six centimeters dilated. Given my rapid labor the first time around, I was not permitted to go home; I had to immediately go to the hospital. I was shocked. I wasn’t even feeling any contractions.
Your dad met me at the hospital, with plenty of time to make sure Isabelle was taken care of. Twelve hours later, things hadn’t progressed much further. Uncomfortable and tired, I finally agreed to let the doctor break my water to move things along. That did the trick – you were born just over an hour later.
I tell you all this to say that from Day 1, you have surprised us.
Parenthood is surprising and funny (and sometimes frustrating) in so many ways. I’m a planner. I like to know what to expect. It stands to reason that having parented one child, I should expect that parenting a subsequent child would be a similar endeavor. And in some ways, it is. But in many, many more ways, it is not.
We could tell from your arrival and your very first days with us that you would be different from your sister. You were calmer, more laid back. You had jaundice and had to lay in a special bassinet under bili lights at the hospital. I could only hold you to feed you, and it broke my heart. But, you were pretty chill about it.
As you’ve grown, it’s become clear that not only are you different from your sister, you’re different from Dad and me too. It’s intriguing and sometimes unnerving. Isabelle is sensitive, sometimes moody, introverted and introspective. And your dad and I are sensitive, sometimes moody, introverted and introspective.
But you are an anomaly – confident, silly, outgoing, unflappable, boisterous. I will admit that sometimes I don’t know how to address certain challenges with you because you are so different from me. But I also see your uniqueness as one of the great gifts of being your mother. You are you. There is no one else like you. Your existence is one of the great wonders of my life. How did your dad and I make someone so different than us? I don’t know, but watching you grow and become your own person is fascinating.
I’m trying to focus on letting you be yourself, to encourage your marvelous energy, to not try to force you into a mold that’s more familiar to me. I want to see who you turn into, unfettered by my – or anyone’s – control.
This is a little peek into who you are today. You love Batman, Paw Patrol, Play-Doh, “movie nights” with popcorn, and playing “puppies” (and other imaginative games) with your sister. When in the right mood, you have the ability to focus for a really long time on building with Legos. You like to create abstract water color paintings. You love pancakes, pumpkin muffins, pizza, and your favorite food of all time – chocolate cake (obviously into carbs). You are desperate to be old enough to ride the bus and go to kindergarten with Isabelle. You like to play soccer and have pretty solid ball control already. You’re becoming a strong hiker. You have killer dance moves. You like to talk. A lot. You are squirmy and silly and already starting to avoid my kisses and hugs (noooo!), but still get super cuddly sometimes, and I soak those moments up.
You are a light, Zach. Your smile brightens my life, and you make me laugh every day. Always be you. I love you.